Family Connections

Arizona Butterfly

“Forgiveness is the final form of love.” ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

“Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those who think they talk sense.” ~ Robert Frost

During this visit to family for the holidays, we’ve been able to reconnect with my father’s last living brother. It’s been over twenty years since we last saw him, and we’ve all been through lots of life altering experiences. Seeing my uncle again and hearing the stories of his painful experiences has caused me to reflect on relationships and just how complicated they are. Each of us carry wounds, some healed, some still seeping. But for me the meaning of Jesus life, and that of the other great teachers like him, is that we must learn to forgive those who have wounded us, and forgive ourselves for being thoughtless.

When we think of forgiveness, we often think of the person who has been hurt, but not about the person who caused the pain. Having been the perpetrator of hurt feelings, I know that when I hurt someone else, I feel terrible that I could have done such a thing and I berate myself endlessly. Okay, I know not everyone is sensitive, or has empathy enough to regret what they did, but still there are always two sides to any story when someone gets hurt. And often there are two wounds that need to be addressed and healed.

This year there has been a lot of talk about how uncivil our society has become, and that we need to be kinder to each other. Social media has become littered with landmines of nasty comments. But I have to remind myself that when someone lashes out with hate, they are trying to get rid of their own negative feelings. So, I go back to one of my life themes, if we want to rebuild our personal relationships and create a kinder society, we have to begin with loving ourselves. Then we can spread kindness within our smaller circle of friends and family. This creates a ripple effect that will transform our personal relationships and our society into one that most of us say we want.

I try to remember that we’re all a member of the human family and that no one is perfect. Often we’re in our own little worlds and aren’t as mindful as we could be when interacting with others. We cause harm where none was intended. I’m a firm believer in the idea that we’re all doing the best we can all the time. And that not everyone has the same level of life coping skills. So, maybe we should do what Atticus Finch suggests to Scout; put on someone else’s shoes and walk around in them for a while. Doing that might help us not only see where we’ve caused pain, but also see that the people who hurt us might not have intended what happened. They were just living their lives and doing the best they could at the time.

Here’s to creating a great 2019!

Thanks for reading, liking, and commenting. I appreciate it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Christmas Gift

Olympic Mountains in Washington State

“I think the most important thing in life is self-love, because if you don’t have self-love, and respect for everything about your own body, your own soul, your own capsule, then how can you have an authentic relationship with anyone else?” ~ Shailene Woodley

Here it is Christmas time again. As I get older it comes faster every year. Of course, each Christmas, my focus turns to what gifts to give family and friends. This year, I’ve been thinking not just about physical gifts, but about the intangible gifts we give all throughout the year. And the biggest gift we can give is love.

Over the years I’ve learned that to give love, I must first learn to love myself, no easy task, but so worth it. Recently, I watched a few YouTube videos by a woman named Marisa Peer, a therapist who says that to become happy, all we really need to do is to tell ourselves over and over again that we are enough, that we are worthy, that we love ourselves. When we do that we change the negative self-talk that runs in our heads on a constant feed back loop. It seems so simplistic, and maybe even like wishful thinking to do such a thing because we’re so used to making everything hard. And it’s work to turn our attention away from the familiar mind numbing thoughts that we think we can’t control. It takes commitment. We can’t just say these things once and expect to change our thinking. Nope, we have to put post-it notes around the house, we have to remind ourselves over and over again until a new groove is etched into our brains and the old thinking fades away.

I’ve been practicing this new way of thinking this fall, and I have to say I’m feeling better about everything that is happening around me. I’m more open to people and experiences. Here’s an example: My husband and I are now with family in Seattle. Flying is not always a pleasant experience because of all the security hoops we have to jump through. But both Barry and I decided we were going to change our minds about going through security and then sitting for an hour or more waiting for our flight. We decided it was going to go smoothly. Our check-in process was much more pleasant this time around. The TSA agent even joked with us, which made having to go through the process fun. We struck up a conversation with a couple sitting across from us as we waited to board the plane. And even though it was a long day, I felt much less stress this time than on previous trips.

In fact, I’m feeling better about everything in my life. So, this year and for the months to come, I’m going to follow Marisa’s advice and give myself the gift of self-love so I can spread more of it around and hopefully effect change in a gentle one-on-one kind of way.

If you celebrate Christmas, have a blessed one, and if not I hope your end of the year festivities are full of warmth and love because you are worth it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Self-love, Helping, and Dreaming

Dad, Lucinda, Mom
Dad, Lucinda, Mom

“Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm. As you get older, remember you have another hand: the first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.” – Audrey Hepburn

“There are some who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone, the light remains.” – Unknown

“You should take some responsibility for the way you present yourself. But you should not be hung up on your looks, whether you are ugly or handsome, because it isn’t an achievement.” – Christopher Reeve

Today’s post is kind of a jumble in my mind so I’m not sure how much sense it will make.

First of all, I’m in the final stages of finishing my first novel. Because of that I’ve been thinking a great deal about what will happen after it’s published and out in the world. I’ve been thinking about what will I do if no one buys my book or what will I do if lots of people buy it? What do we do when our dreams come true?

Which brings me to the second thing I’ve been thinking about, helping others. Since I’m older now and have learned a few things, I feel a great desire to be of help to others. But I’ve been thinking, is there ever a time when giving assistance to a person who needs it is not a good idea? And what constitutes help? Are we enabling someone’s addiction to be helpless if we give help over a long period of time?

The third thing I’ve been thinking about which ties the first two things together is self-love. Can we do anything significant with our lives without loving ourselves first?

What precipitated this seemingly disjointed series of thoughts was a conversation I had with someone over the weekend. They wanted me to apologize, again, for something I’d done to hurt another person. And I got to thinking about people who think that happiness and self-love come from outside themselves. In the above mentioned incident, I did apologize. But the person I spoke to thought I needed to continue to apologize over and over again so that the person in question could feel better.

People who require multiple apologies for the same incident are, in my estimation, insecure and lack self-love. I know from experience that on the one hand I was suspicious of assurances from outside and on the other craved attention to bolster my withered sense of self. Someplace deep inside I knew that I was the only one who could choose to do the work to believe in myself. As I began the work toward loving myself, I let go of the need for approval from others. I was able to let go of imagined or real hurts and forgive.

It has taken years of work to fully love myself and now that I do, life is opening up for me in a most profound way. Once I accepted that I was a good person no matter what, I realized that every issue I faced in life lead back to my ability or inability to love myself.

Okay, self-love is good but how does self-love connect to being there for others. I believe that we are best able to help others when we feel secure in knowing who we are and when we know that security doesn’t come from outside ourselves. There are those who help others from an ego perspective. They want to look good so they offer help in order to be seen to be doing good. But how long are they able to maintain their good works? Eventually the ego tells them that they are in a dangerous situation and that they are jeopardizing their own safety and security. Then to save themselves, they stop helping saying that continuing to help will encourage the one being helped to becoming dependent.

Now here’s a curious thing. Sometimes people with poor self-esteem just need a cheerleader, someone who will be there for them without any expectations or demands. It’s amazing how just loving someone can help them heal. The best cheerleaders are those who’ve gone through similar situations as the person they are helping and can say, “See, I did it. So can you.” It’s the same for all of us. Once we’re on our way to loving ourselves our minds are open to creating bigger and more wonderful dreams.

Deepak Chopra says, “If you want to do really important things in life and big things in life, you can’t do anything by yourself. And your best teams are your friends and your siblings.” In other words we all need help from time to time. There is no shame in asking for it, and at some point we’ll all be able to give help where needed.

So to bring this full circle, everyone deserves to love themselves, have their dreams come true and then offer the wisdom they’ve gained along the way to help others. In my opinion everyone is valuable enough to garner help from someone and in turn give it to others.

Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Gratitude

December 2, 2014 Western Horizon sunrise view
December 2, 2014 Western Horizon sunrise view

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” –Melody Beattie

“Thank you is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, and understanding.” –Alice Walker

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” –Marcus Tullius Cicero

November seems to be the month when many of my Facebook friends are inspired to post one thing they are grateful for each day. I think it’s good to focus on gratitude, even if it’s only one month out of the year. Focusing on gratitude shifts our eyes outward instead of inward, and it helps us see the beauty instead of all the things going wrong in the world. It also makes me happier to focus on things for which I’m grateful.

One day I was talking with some friends and I mentioned the beauty of the sunrises and sunsets I can enjoy from my home. One of the people sneered and said, “Yes, all that beautiful red is caused by the chemicals and particulates in the air. Who wants to be grateful for that.” I felt sad for her, because she almost never sees the beauty in anything. What a sad life she must live, not to be grateful for anything good that comes her way. That’s why sometime in 2013, I decided to dedicate an entire journal to gratitude. Each day I write three or four things for which I’m grateful and it’s been quite a life changing experiment.

Today, I awoke before sunrise and was blessed with the beauty of the sun turning the thin layer of clouds red, pink and gold. I remembered what that woman had said about what caused the colors, and I decided to take pictures of them and use them in today’s post. I’m grateful for the beauty of the earth. It’s one of the most simple blessings we have, yet most of the time we’re too busy to notice.

Anyway, after taking the pictures, my thought processes went from how some people have a hard time being grateful, to the time in my own life when I was extremely serious and closed off. I was wound up pretty tight, not wanting to make any mistakes. You see, I didn’t like myself very much and I thought that if I was as perfect as possible, no one would notice the flaws I knew lurked deep inside. I was pessimistic and cynical most of the time, just like the woman I mentioned above. Life was a chore for me then and not much fun. But little by little, I began to unwind the tight control I had on myself.

The first thing I did that helped was to dedicate myself to a year of volunteer service through a program sponsored by my church. Talents that I didn’t know I had emerged. That made me feel better about myself, and I began to feel the smallest bit of gratitude that I wasn’t such a terrible creature after all.

As the years rolled by, I found more things for which I was grateful. When I began keeping a journal at the age of twenty-four, I got the idea to end my entries thanking God for all the love and support that was guiding me along my life journey. This opened my eyes to a larger world of things for which I could be grateful.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but eventually I realized that I liked who I’d become. I wasn’t perfect. I’d made plenty of mistakes throughout my life, but practicing gratitude allowed me to stop focusing so much on myself and my mistakes. What’s more, I noticed that everyone has some burden to bear, and dark places within that need healing. No one is perfect and trying to pretend that you are is exhausting.

A few months ago, one of my spiritual teachers challenged his readers to write three things that we were grateful for every day for two or three weeks. We had to pick three completely new things each day, no repeats were allowed. I took up the challenge, because, even though I was writing in my gratitude journal every day, I noticed that I was repeating myself quite a bit. My practice needed some revitalization.

Doing that was a shot in the arm for my personal growth. There are so many things big and small that we’re blessed with everyday. Noticing them leads us to lots of other wonderful things. For example, gratitude leads us to self-love, healing and finding our purpose. It leads us out of the dark times, or helps us cope with them when they come. Gratitude helps us discover new talents we didn’t know we possessed. It lightens our load and helps us have more fun.

I’m grateful that I let go of my cynicism, self-hatred and fear of being discovered. My life now is so much richer and happier. And when challenges present themselves, instead of yelling at God, I look for the lesson being presented to me.

What are the hidden things you can be grateful for throughout the holiday season, and beyond?

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

December 2, 2014 sunrise over the San Jose Mountains
December 2, 2014 sunrise over the San Jose Mountains

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